Online ISSN: 2515-8260

MSG: A Miscarriage of Food Innovation

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Sheela Jayabalan*a, Daleleer Kaur Randawarb


Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) a food enhancer founded by a Japanese Professor was commercialised and is widely used in the cooking of many dishes.MSG is also used as a food additive in many food products such as chips, sauce and instant soups. Though it enhances the taste of food, people who suffer from food allergy react to MSG when consumed. Studies indicate MSG is toxic to the human body. The bleaching agent is harmful to the stomach mucosa, and intake in high doses leads to elevation of the liver and renal functions. Prolonged consumption can cause reactions such as migraine, fatigue, vertigo, perspiring, tingling and redness. In severe cases, it can also cause cardiac arrhythmia, neuropathy urticaria, asthma, cutaneous allergic reaction, and abdominal disturbance. Despite the severity of allergy reaction and the ill effects to human health, MSG continues to be used as a food enhancer without any inhibitions, especially in Malaysia. The law governing the usage of MSG merely regulates to the extent that it should be mentioned as an ingredient as with any other ingredients in the label of the product. The burden is on the consumer to „find out‟ whether MSG is an ingredient in the food they intend to consume (caveat emptor), and the choice is left to the consumers to face the health hazard of consuming food products with MSG. The fact that MSG is labelled does not protect consumers from the dangers of consuming or using MSG oriented food enhancer such as Ajinomoto. Food enhancers such as MSG should be further regulated and should not be overwhelmed and celebrated as a food innovation. In Pakistan, MSG has been banned because it is deemed hazardous to human health. The inadequate regulatory approach to the usage and consumption of MSG would be a miscarriage of justice if not addressed as it affects the wellbeing and health of the consumer society which includes both adults and children. On the basis of the precautionary principle, Malaysia should pursue preventative measures, i.e. interventions on the consumption, trade and usage of MSG as a food safety measure.

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